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This Weekend

The fun stuff to do in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and beyond this weekend.

Bernar Venet Sculptures, Cliveden National Trust, until mid October

The Cliveden iconic statues are almost as famous as the estate’s reputation for wild parties. Lord Astor was a big collector, so I think he’d approve of the current exhibition of Bernar Venet’s modern sculptures. It’s the first time the French artist’s work has been seen outdoors in the UK since 1976.

Raphael, The Drawings, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 1 June – 3 Sept

The Ashmolean’s captivating new summer show, just started, brings together 120 stunning works from international collections spanning the brief but brilliant career of Raphael, only 37 when he died. The Ashmolean’s unrivalled Raphaels are joined by superb works from the Albertina and loans from other international collections including the Louvre, the Uffizi and Liz II.  Drawings include the exquisite Head of a Muse, which broke records when auctioned at Christies in 2009, as well as the sublime Heads and Hands of two Apostles, considered to be the finest drawing Raphael ever made.

Colourscape, Waddesdon Manor, 27 May – 4 June

I went to Colourscape this week and it was AWESOME, massively worth going to experience (see my review here). Back for the fourth year and with a brand new structure created to exactly fit the Aviary Lawn at Waddesdon, Colourscape brings its labyrinth of 56 interlinked chambers, where you can where you can explore intense light, colour and space.Each day there will be different music and dance performances – expect Hurdy-Gurdy (I’m not joking!), panpipes, dance, music from Norway and on the final day a theatre-piece with dance and acoustic costumes.

10.30am-4.30pm, music plays from 11am-3.30pm.

Giffords Circus, Any Port in a Storm, touring now until 24 Sept

This year the inimitable Giffords Circus is recreating a 17th-century Spanish court and putting on a candle-lit international gymnastic show with dancing horses, a live band and everyone’s favourite clown Tweedy. It’s moved from its Gloucestershire home into Oxfordshire for the next month – currently nestled in Kingham, it then heads off to Stonor Park and central Oxford before hitting the big bucks in London.

Billy Elliot, Milton Keynes Theatre, Tues 30 May – Sat 17 June

A huge run at Milton Keynes theatre for this first UK and Ireland tour of Billy Eliot the Musical after 11 years in the West End. Set in a northern mining town against the background of the 1984-5 miners’ strike, the young working-class Billy forgoes the boxing ring for ballet with the help of an Elton John score and some fruity language. It recommends a minimum age of 8+ but bear in mind it’s supersweary – I remember being a bit shocked taking my 10 year old son to it, with nervous glances between me and Mr Muddy until we realised that Finn already knew the entire expletive lexicon from school anyway.

Lemur Week, Cotswold Wildlife Park, Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June

Here’s one for you fact fans – lemurs are now one of the most threatened groups of mammals on the planet. So the Cotswolds Wildlife Park is hosting a week of activities and keeper talks to help raise awareness/ funds for Lemur Conservation in Madagascar. Go see the cute little fellas and help save them while you’re at it.

Wycombe Arts Festival, High Wycombe, until Sun 4 June

A whopper of a festival stretching over a month and reaching its conclusion this week, the Wycombe Arts Festival is a real mix of professional and amateur around High Wycombe, Marlow and the Chiltern hills. Think classical and jazz concerts, open air theatre, with music, roaming performers and kids activities, and a grand finale at Wycombe Swan with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Spring into Summer, Green Dragon Eco Farm

There are around 70 baby animals at the Green Dragon Eco Farm near Quainton at the mo, from lambs and kids to piglets and rabbit kits (I know, sweeeeeeet). Get your kids up there and watch them pet, stroke, feed and talk to the animals while you do the important stuff like order another flat white.


Love Marlow Festival 2017, 2 – 17 June


Marlow is definitely the Buckinghamshire town du jour, with seemingly endless cool openings, posh boutiques, and festivals on the go. Its LOVE Marlow Festival is really popular locally, with over 60 community activities and promotions including music, sport, workshops and kids’ events. Worth checking out whether you’re nearby or going that way for a day trip.

Clangers, Bagpuss and co, River and Rowing Museum, Henley,  until Sun 4 June 
Bravo to the River & Rowing Museum in Henley for its inventive exhibitions programme. This one hits adults right between the eyes, a behind-the-scenes peak at some of the all-time classics of kids’ TV – learn to speak Clanger and have a go animating characters like Bagpuss and Noggin the Nog. Your children will look at you with awe that you actually watched this stuff on telly when there were just two channels!

War of the Roses, Live at Warwick Castle, Sat 27 May – Sun 4 June
Pledge your allegiance in an epic battle for the English Throne! Yup, it’s time for the reenactment brigade, with stunt riders, jousting and special effects. There’s also a castle that’s quite interesting, apparently.
Dear Zoo, Whipsnade Zoo, until Sun 4 June
Clever idea, this one. Kids of all ages are invited to step into the Dear Zoo story at London Zoo, and embark on a trail collecting stamps, meeting the real life animals from the book and exploring the interactive storytelling hub.
The Art of the Brick: DC Superheroes, South Bank, London, runs to Sept 2017
This contemporary art exhibition by LEGO® artist Nathan Sawaya uses nearly 2m bricks to create large-scale sculptures of the most enduring Super Heroes and Super Villains: from Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, to The Joker and Harley Quinn. You’re on the South Bank so plenty to do afterwards too, once you’ve got over the fact that a grown man does this kind of thing for a living!

The Best of Barmy Britain, Hampton Court Palace, until Sat 3 June

A one-hour production of Horrible Histories live on stage at Hampton Court Palace – not a bad theatre space!  Boudicea, Dick Turpin, Henry VIII, Victoria and pretty much everything in between is tackled by the HH team. 100 per cent Kiddie satisfaction right here.


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